IN MEMORY OF UNCLE FRANK J. DEPAUL
JULY 14, 1930 ~ OCTOBER 14, 2022
UNITED STATES ARMY
What Makes It Special
First generation Cuban-American and fifth generation cigar maker, David Blanco, is the current President and founding member of Blanco Cigars. This is a combat veteran and family owned company that operates out of Florida, with family run tobacco factories in Esteli, Nicaragua and Danli, Honduras. David is a cigar expert who previously served as a Deputy Sheriff in Cook County Illinois, a Fire Paramedic Officer for the Chicago Fire Department, and has over thirty years of military service with the United States Army. He also sponsors the iconic and globally rebranded Great Cigar & Pipe Show’s ‘Smoke the Chooch’ trivia prize giveaway segment.
This Above & Beyond, Cuban-seed Habano Rosado, or “rose-colored” cigar, along with its secret sauce Nicaraguan fillers and Honduras binder, received a 91 Rating from Cigar & Spirits Magazine. You can click here for David’s personal introduction of the cigar. It was also featured on David’s recent Twisted Pair Podcast guest appearance. This next level cigar pairing podcast, hosted by Whiskey Network Staff Writer, Dave Yancey, and his partner, Ash Red, includes fascinating in depth discussion about the cigar and what it personally means to David. Check out this epic Twisted Pair Podcast episode here:
David’s ‘Heroes Line’ of cigars pays homage to fallen Police, Fire/EMS, and Military servicemen and women. The line consists of four different sized, box pressed and torpedo shaped cigars. There is the ‘Epic Hero’ (6×60), the ‘Classic Hero’ (7×54), the ‘Willing Hero’ (5×54), and the ‘Unwilling Hero’ (6×54). The box press shape represents the Hero’s coffin, while the torpedo shaped head of the cigar allows for the cigar’s secondary band, a symbolically folded American flag, to be properly presented and displayed. Every box contains twenty one cigars, emblematic of our Nation’s memorialized twenty-one gun burial salute, known as the ‘highest honor rendered’.
Above & Beyond Classic Hero
By: Blanco Cigars
Vitola: 7×54 Box Press Torpedo
Wrapper: Habano Rosado (Nicaragua)
Age: 3 Years
Body: Medium Boldness
Visual / Pre-light Draw
The Habano Rosado wrapper is a light leathery brown with some nice yellow in the cello, indicative of a nicely aged and quality cigar. There is a nice exterior floral odor over fresh hay on the side sniff. The cigar has a tough appearance but is smooth and oily to the touch. The main black band is extremely patriotic with a vertical silver American flag displaying the company name, BLANCO, over “ABOVE AND BEYOND”. BLANCO is in red for Fire/EMS, blue for Police, and Gold for our Military. The back of the label displays a red Fire shield over a blue Police shield, over an encircled gold star, superimposed over our Nation’s Oath of Office. The gold star represents the loss of a service member in combat. The company’s website, BLANCOCIGARS.COM, is displayed vertically along the side of the main band.The cigar’s top secondary folded American flag band comes right off. There is no spice on the palate while prepping the torpedo for a nice optimally angled straight cut. There are nice cereal and berry notes on the dry draw, and now it’s time to light up and engage this beautifully crafted memorial cigar.
Hooah!!! Incredible mouth coating toasted marshmallows on the first draw, over a delicious chocolate note and chocolatey foot smoke odor. I’m immediately wondering if this is a cigar or a perfectly campfire toasted s’more!? There are nice transitions to creamy banana custard over graham cracker flavored pie crust. The cigar has tons of foot smoke, a lingering aftertaste of berries, and excellent amounts of smoke output. The cigar starts off light and creamy, with tons of flavors and nice transitions, with a nicely held ash and even burn. I can literally taste the floral notes directly from the Rosado wrapper, while my palate is salivating for more of this cigar!
Oorah!!! The cigar’s incredible box shaped ash is still going strong as more burnt chocolatey notes come through.The draw on this cigar remains incredibly smooth with consistent medium boldness and creamy flavor. Time to introduce this memorial cigar to the bourbon, for a little taste of freedom…God Bless America!!! This is an indulging desert bomb pairing. The proud and loyal ash just fell with Honor, like all our fallen Heroes, but the cigar and their spirit, remain lit. This memorial pairing has definitely reached a unique level of patriotic unusual awesomeness. Time to honor those lost and reflect on when someone great is gone, with one of my favorite LCD Soundsytem tracks, called “Someone Great”.
Hooyah!!! Sit back and reflect on those no longer with us, as the cigar loses another great ash. Its consistent medium boldness and now darker chocolatey coffee flavors are excellent. The cigar’s burn slows as it transitions to burnt cinnamon graham crackers dipped in vanilla frosting. Time to pour another glass of freedom and keep this patriotic smoking experience going! My Cigarmedics NubTee was required to fully enjoy the remaining and somewhat bolder back end flavors of the cigar. The overall consistent medium boldness of the cigar will satisfy both new and experienced cigar aficionados, a must have cigar for every Patriot to enjoy!
The boldness levels of both the cigar and bourbon mellow and marry perfectly with one another, then boom, there’s that magic chocolate covered marzipan note. I often get this note from memory, but it is only evoked when pairing a quality cigar with a quality whiskey. Finally, there is an occasional Italian roasted coffee note with lingering caramel and vanilla graham cracker notes on the finish.
Our Founding Fathers chose the bald eagle as an emblem of our great nation. Its beauty and independence represents the strength and freedom we as Americans enjoy today. Freedom isn’t free, and many servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, including Police Officers, Firefighters, and Paramedics. To honor those Americans that have gone ‘Above & Beyond’, it’s only appropriate that we pair this commemorative cigar with an American bourbon, that displays our nation’s symbol of freedom.
Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon, from America’s historical Buffalo Trace Distillery, is their signature whiskey, and one of David’s favorite bourbons. This is the Buffalo Trace’s popular low rye mashbill #1, aged no less than ten years, bottled at 45% ABV. It has bold notes of cocoa, honey, orange peel, leather, oak, candied almonds, and is highly coveted among bourbon lovers.
Initially pairing the cigar to the bourbon, there is a big cherry note followed up by classic caramel bourbon notes. The bourbon to the cigar produced nice caramel and oak notes that melt into brown sugar and chocolate, over a fried vanilla custard filled donut. Overall, this pairing reminds me of a chocolate Boston cream filled donut from Dunkin Donuts, but with a cherry on top. The boldness levels of both the cigar and bourbon mellow and marry perfectly with one another, then boom, there’s that magic chocolate covered marzipan note. I often get this note from memory, but it is only evoked when pairing a quality cigar with a quality whiskey. Finally, there is an occasional Italian roasted coffee note with lingering caramel and vanilla graham cracker notes on the finish. This medium bold pairing gave me a nice subtle buzz. LCD Soundsytem’s “Someone Great” track evoked all the emotions and memories of those gone before us, which of course flooded to the surface. I highly recommend you find this pairing and take a moment to Honor our Fallen Heroes.
Merry Christmas Whiskey Network!
Acknowledgment & Our Nations Oath of Office
Thank you to my Hero, Uncle Frank DePaul, for your selfless service during the Korean War, your ‘epic’ kindness, ‘classic’ family values, ‘willingness’ to help others, and ‘unwillingness’ to stray from your Catholic Faith. When someone great like you is gone, it’s never easy, but in our hearts you remain!
Thank you David Blanco, for all your service, and for properly acknowledging all those great men and women that have paid the ultimate price, in defense of our freedom, with this incredible and symbolic cigar. A portion of Above & Beyond proceeds are donated to identified organizations that assist families of fallen and wounded service members. An entire box was purchased to help give back to them, and for the completion of this article.
Our Nations Oath of Office
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”
To all our fallen Epic, Classic, Willing, and Unwilling Heroes, we thank you and salute you! Also, thank you to all our Veterans, active Military, and First Responders. God bless you all and God Bless America!
Photography by: James Archie